Latest posts by Martin Moodie (see all)
- Arise you Freeman of Sweny’s - May 28, 2020
- Pivoting fast and turning virtual in the Lockdown Bureau - May 23, 2020
- Climbing Mount Difficulty and Piercing through Clouds - May 18, 2020
When I get older losing my hair
Many years from now
Will you still be sending me a Valentine
Birthday greetings, bottle of wine?
If I’d been out till quarter to three
Would you lock the door?
Will you still need me, will you still feed me
When I’m sixty-four? – The Beatles, written by Paul McCartney
In terms of Paul McCartney’s opening lines, I got my retaliation in early. The hair (which once hung down over my shoulders but then simply fell down on them) disappeared at an alarming rate four decades ago but at least I’ve reached the ripe old age of 64 otherwise (just about) intact.
Today, 1 March, is also St David’s Day, patron saint of Wales. That’s an especially appropriate association for me today as my daughter Sinead, who lives in Pontardawe, Wales and is married to a Welshman (Adrian) is with me today for a family celebration of my advanced years.
I’ve been been covering the travel retail sector since I was 31, which seems a lifetime ago. In that time I’ve learned my trade, discovered an industry, worked as a journalist, editor, managing director and (for the past 18 years) owned and run a pure-play travel retail publisher.
I’ve reported and commented on various industry crises brought about through external events. Rollercoaster currency fluctuations; volcano eruptions; tsunamis; war; terrorism; the abolition of an entire sector of the business (intra-EU duty free); and, of course, health alarms (SARS, MERS). Which inevitably brings me to the subject of, you guessed it, COVID-19, the latest and greatest trauma to hit the travel retail channel.
The birthday celebrations were on hold this morning as I spent several hours updating our main website with the latest developments from around the world. Like just about everyone in the industry, I have found the deepening crisis almost overwhelming in its speed and magnitude. And while I understand the view of some that the situation is being exacerbated by an over the top response in some quarters, the travel retail community has no choice but to deal with the reality.
The ‘all this is just media hysteria’ argument only goes so far and is little solace anyway. Whether common influenza kills more people annually is not the point. We are dealing with the commercial not philosophical repercussions of a new strain of a virus that has so far infected some 91,000 people and killed over 3,100. None of those deaths should be dismissed easily. From a purely business, non-medical perspective, travel retail as a business community has to react with prudence, ‘clean house’, focus on the few opportunities that do exist, and wait out the storm in anticipation of the fairer days that will surely follow.
Now it’s time to stop for the day, accept the birthday greetings and the bottle of wine. Cloudy Bay not cloudy days. 2020 may not be a promising vintage for travel retail but plenty of good ones lie ahead.